Answer: Cover crops serve many purposes; they enrich the soil when they're turned over in the spring, they stop soil erosion during fall and winter rains, and they suppress weeds. Vetch is a legume, and as such it helps fix nitrogen in the soil. Other legumes fix nitrogen as well (clover is a good example), but vetch seems to have just the right properties to make tomatoes especially happy and productive. Cover crops should be sown in the fall and turned under in the spring, prior to planting your veggies. Mulches help soil retain moisture and help suppress weeds. If they're organic materials they'll release nutrients into the soil as they decompose. Studies have shown that red mulch material has a positive effect on tomato production because of the ultraviolet rays it concentrates and reflects up to the plants. If it were my choice, I'd go with a fall sowing of vetch, turn it under, plant my tomatoes and mulch with 3-4 inches of compost. This method will enrich your soil all season long which will help the tomato plants grow and produce abundant crops of tomatoes.
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